Risk Management |
In recent years, some independent schools have faced claims that campus wireless internet has harmed enrolled students. Families filing these suits allege students suffer from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” which purportedly causes adverse reactions to electromagnetic fields that are well below international standards. Symptoms range widely among individuals, and the disorder has no scientific basis, according to the World Health Organization. Claims argue that the school must disable its Wi-Fi and/or pay damages.
One such claim was recently denied in court, following a defense by Schwartz Hannum PC. The dispute began when a family expressed concerns about adverse effects of the school’s recently installed Wi-Fi’s on the enrolled child. The family argued the school dismissed the family’s emails and retaliated by removing the concerned parent from the parent association.
An independent medical specialist found that the student’s reported symptoms had no relationship to electromagnetic radiation. The school declined the family’s requests to remove campus Wi-Fi because there was no apparent connection between the Wi-Fi and the student’s alleged electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The family then filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and common law claims.
The family alleged breach of contract and misrepresentation based on the student handbook, which the court denied. It ruled that the enrollment contract, if properly drafted, is the sole contract between the family and the school. The student handbook, if properly drafted, does not create a contract between the family and the school. The court relied upon language in the enrollment agreement in deciding in favor of the school and stipulated language in the student handbook was “aspirational” and not contractual.
The result is not only favorable to independent schools, but a reminder of the importance of having a well-drafted enrollment agreement and student handbook.
Read more at Schwartz Hannum PC#Contract#RiskManagement
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